Reporting based on NSA leaks wins Polk Award

Feb 17, 2014, 3:07 AM

NEW YORK (AP) – Four journalists who reported on the extent of the National Security Agency’s secret surveillance based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden are among the winners of the 65th annual George Polk Awards in Journalism.

Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill and Laura Poitras of The Guardian and Barton Gellman of The Washington Post will receive the award for national security reporting for stories based on secret documents leaked by Snowden, a former intelligence analyst.

The awards were announced Sunday by Long Island University.

Journalists who wrote about massive traffic jams caused by bridge lane closures in New Jersey, a catastrophic garment factory collapse in Bangladesh and the struggles of a homeless family in Brooklyn also will be among those honored.

The Polk Awards were created in 1949 in honor of CBS reporter George W. Polk, who was killed while covering the Greek civil war. This year’s awards will be given out April 11. Kimberly Dozier of The Associated Press will read the citations at the ceremony.

James Yardley of The New York Times will be honored for foreign reporting for coverage of the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh, which killed more than 1,100 clothing workers.

The award for national reporting will go to Eli Saslow of The Washington Post for stories about some of the 47 million Americans who receive aid from the federal food stamp program.

Shawn Boburg of The Record of Northern New Jersey will be recognized in the state reporting category for articles on lane closures on the George Washington Bridge in September that created a monumental traffic jam in Fort Lee, N.J., and set the stage for later stories on the involvement of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s office.

Andrea Elliott of The New York Times will receive the award for local reporting for “Invisible Child,” her five-part series focusing on Dasani Coates, one of 22,000 homeless children in New York City.

The award for political reporting will go to Rosalind Helderman, Laura Vozzella and Carol Leonnig of The Washington Post for reporting on the relationship between former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and a wealthy entrepreneur. Their stories spurred a federal investigation that resulted in a 14-count indictment of McDonnell and his wife, Maureen.

Two entries examining treatment of the mentally ill will share the award for medical reporting. Meg Kissinger of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel will be honored for a series of stories on the Milwaukee County mental health system, and Cynthia Hubert and Phillip Reese of the Sacramento Bee will be cited for their expose of a Las Vegas psychiatric hospital’s practice of exporting patients to locales across the country via Greyhound bus.

Reporters Frances Robles, Sharon Otterman, Michael Powell and N. R. Kleinfield of The New York Times will receive the award for justice reporting for uncovering evidence that a Brooklyn homicide detective used false confessions, tainted testimony and coercive tactics to convict dozens of defendants.

Tim Elfrink of the Miami New Times will receive the award for sports reporting for showing that Biogenesis, an anti-aging clinic in Coral Gables, Fla., supplied some of baseball’s biggest stars with performance-enhancing drugs.

The George Polk Award for Business Reporting will go to Alison Fitzgerald, Daniel Wagner, Lauren Kyger and John Dunbar of The Center for Public Integrity for “After the Meltdown,” a three-part series demonstrating that regulators have failed to hold a single major player on Wall Street accountable for the behavior that sparked the 2008 financial crisis.

Freelance reporter Matthieu Aikins will receive the award for magazine reporting for a Rolling Stone story that presented evidence that a 12-man U.S. Army Special Forces unit and their Afghan translators executed 10 civilians in the Nerkh district of Wardak province of Afghanistan. The Army has opened a criminal inquiry, and human rights organizations have called for impartial investigations.

The award for network television reporting will go to Michael Kirk, Jim Gilmore, Mike Wiser, Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada for “League of Denial,” a “Frontline” documentary that on PBS that traced the National Football League’s efforts to quash evidence linking head injuries suffered by players to the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Noah Pransky of WTSP, a CBS affiliate in the Tampa Bay, Fla. area, will receive the award for local television reporting for disclosing how state and local officials and a contractor bilked drivers out of millions of dollars in fines by reducing the period of time before yellow caution lights turn to red at intersections monitored by cameras.

Columnist, author and editor Pete Hamill will be honored with the George Polk Career Award, which is named in memory of Professor Robert D. Spector, chair of the George Polk Awards for 32 years until his death in 2009.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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Reporting based on NSA leaks wins Polk Award